Sir Cuthbert Montraville Sebastian,
GCMG, OBE, CM, MD
A Legacy Inherited! A Legacy Passed On!
Today we mourn the loss of one of the most distinguished sons of the Federation of St. Christopher and Nevis, Sir Cuthbert Montraville Sebastian GCMG, OBE, CM, MD.
It cannot be overstated that Cutie Sebastian, the Pharmacist, Dr, Cuthbert Sebastian, OB/GYN; Comrade Sebastian, His Excellency Sir Cuthbert Montraville Sebastian, devoted his entire life to the service of his people; the people of St. Kitts-Nevis Anguilla.
Sir Cuthbert was indeed a true protégé of his father, the late Revered Joseph Matthew Sebastian, a Political leader who dedicated his entire life to the noble cause of the liberation, enlightenment and advancement of the masses of our land, during the most difficult period of our country’s history.
And so today, we reminisce on the life and work of this Iconic Public Servant, Sir Cuthbert Montraville Sebastian; a man who remained extremely popular and respected in the Trinity of Islands. He was admired as a man of old school courtesies and charm; a man of honor, courage and determination. Unquestionably, all the traits of the Sebastian family. We are eternally grateful for his steadfast commitment to nation building.
One may liken the Sebastian family to an institution. Their contribution to public life and the development of our contemporary, social, political and economic history, especially of the working class, is unparalleled by any other family in this Federation.
History was be made on Monday April 10, 2017 with the internment of the mortal remains of Sir Cuthbert Montraville Sebastian at the Springfield Cemetery. It was the first time that a father and son were accorded state funerals; a most deserving honor.
My own recollection of Sir Cuthbert, like every youngster of my generation growing up in Basseterre, was an awareness of this handsome, confident young man; a star athlete and brilliant scholar.
I learned a lot more about him from 1984 when he responded to the call of the people and contested a seat in the General Elections of that year. His father did likewise a half century before.
Three years later in 1987, as Manager of Quality Foods Supermarket on Fort Street, I met with Dr. Sebastian and established a business relationship with him as the owner of Franklands Processing Company Limited.
Later that year, I got his blessings, encouragement and support when I enter electoral politics. We developed a relationship and friendship that blossomed over the next thirty years. He was extremely generous with his time, his advice, and his resources and I was truly blessed to have him as a friend.
When the Labour Party formed the Government in 1995, I was more than pleased to support a recommendation for Dr. Sebastian, a man with a strong belief in Good Governance and the Rule of Law, for the post of Governor General. I was also privileged to be part of the Delegation to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in New Zealand that same year, when the recommendation for his appointment was made to her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second.
Dr. Sebastian was appointed Governor General of St. Christopher and Nevis in January 1996 and demitted office in January 2013. He was the longest serving Governor General of the Federation. During those years, Dr. Sebastian and I developed an extremely close relationship and he became my confidante.
My visits to his residences at Cayon Street and Government House were frequent. He in turn visited me at my home at Bird Rock and at my offices at Church Street and the Pelican Mall. The discussions were wide ranging but at all times addressed the welfare of our people and the development of the Federation.
In recent times, he lamented the state of affairs of the Organizations that his father co-founded; the Labour Spokesman, the Labour Party and the St. Kitts-Nevis Trades and Labour Union. He was also aggrieved with the state of Governance in the Federation.
In fact, I recall being invited, nay – summoned, to a Meeting at Government House that was also attended by the former Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas. His Excellency discussed with us what he believed to be the downward trajectory for both the Labour Movement and the Government. This he felt could be arrested with concerted refocusing on the founding principles of the Labour Movement.
Dr. Sebastian believed there was need for more open dialogue and inclusion amongst key players; and that fairness, justice and integrity were critical to Good Governance. He lamented the intransigence of the Leadership and the crisis of growth.
He saw these issues as critical to the advancement of Good Governance, as well as the growth and development of his beloved Labour Movement and the country in general.
I have had the opportunity to learn quite a lot about this Gentle Giant Sir Cuthbert, but I believe there is so much more to learn about the towering strength of this Icon.
In 1993, his sister, Elsie Sebastian Marthol introduced us to her father, Joseph Matthew Sebastian, one of the Founding Fathers of the Labour Movement. In a biography entitled, “Meet My Father,” with an introduction by her husband Joseph Francois Mathol, we learned so much about Joseph Matthew Sebastian that we did not know.
It is my sincere hope that with the passage of time, Sir Cuthbert’s daughter Ermelin Sebastian Duggins will introduce us to the father she knew, Cuthbert Montraville Sebastian.
It would be instructive and interesting to have an introduction by her husband, Samal Duggins, the great grandson of one of the Founding Fathers of the Labour Movement, Joseph Nathan.
This will allow us the opportunity to learn more about the man, the Icon, the distinguished son of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis who so greatly contributed to the advancement of the social and political development of our nation.
I am truly grateful that Sir Cuthbert allowed me to be part of his life. I will never forget him and I will continue to fight for the cause with which we were both infused; that is, the well-being of family, community and country.
As we mourn his passing my prayer for my country is:
“God give us men! A time like this demands
Strong minds, great hearts, true faith, and ready hands.
Men whom the lust of office does not kill;
Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy;
Men who possess opinions and a will;
Men who have honour – men who will not lie;”
Goodbye my comrade!
May flights of angels take thee to thy rest.